With its latest product unveilings on Sept. 12, Apple left little doubt that it is furthering its push into the healthcare field.
The tech giant has already positioned itself as a serious innovator in the healthcare technology market by hiring Dr. Sumbul Desai, former executive director of Stanford Medicine’s Center for Digital Health, to serve in a senior role on the company’s health team, alongside several other influential health IT hires. Now, the company is looking to flex its health IT muscle and move further into the regulated medical sector with the unveiling of new capabilities in its products.
Apple, Stanford Study Sets Sights on Detecting Irregular Heartbeat
The Apple Watch has already emerged as a useful tool for both researchers and innovators through several trials, including one with Ochsner Health to track atrial fibrillation and a capability that allows diabetic users to sync the Apple Watch to a glucose sensor from a medical device.
Going forward, alongside the newly unveiled Apple Watch Series 3, the company is looking to confirm the smartwatch’s use as a health tool through a study with Stanford that aims to understand whether the watch can be used to detect common heart conditions.
“A regular heart rhythm has a familiar pattern, but when your heart beats irregularly it’s called arrhythmia,” explained Apple COO Jeff Williams at the event. “That can cause problems, the most common form is AFIB, it affects tens of millions of people and is a leading cause of stroke.”
To further study how the watch can measure a resting heart rate and detect elevated heart rates and irregular rhythms, Apple will partner with a group of clinicians at Stanford as well as a telemedicine vendor, American Well, CNBC reports.
This isn’t the first time that the company has set out to explore how the watch could be used to track irregular heartbeat.
According to TechCrunch:
Apple previously teamed up with a startup called Cardiogram to track irregular heart rhythm in conjunction with the University of California San Francisco. That initial study found the Watch was able to detect an abnormal heart rhythm with a 97 percent accuracy.
New Features Further Fitness Connections
For consumers, the rollout of watchOS 4 will also offer new fitness tracking capabilities.
Most notably, a feature called Gym Connect will allow the watch to sync with a treadmill or other gym equipment, like an elliptical, to share and better track workout data.
The new capability will pair the watch with a near-field communication sensor on the workout gear from partners that have built the capability into their equipment, TechCrunch reports.
The new features will become available on Sept. 19, and it’s likely that these will be just the latest in a long line of health and researched-focused capabilities.
“We started working on the Apple Watch several years ago,” Tim Cook said in an interview with Fortune. “[One goal was] performing some measurements of your health that people were not measuring, at least continually. Like your heart. Very few people wore heart monitors. We’re extremely interested in this area. And, yes, it is a business opportunity.”